Cruise4U Steps Up to Support Two Young
NJ Driving Talents
Rob Silver and Phil Arons
Phil Arons, the owner of the Cruise4U travel agency, was never much of an auto racing fan. He was one of those people who thought NASCAR was nothing more than a bunch of guys just going around in circles for hours.
That all changed when a new cruise ship was built featuring bumper cars. Always the astute businessman, Phil saw an opportunity to possibly build cruise packages around this feature to race fans. In order to do so he knew he needed to learn more about the sport.
He started to follow NASCAR, not just at it's highest levels of Sprint Cup, XFinity, and the Camping World Trucks, but also the K&N Pro Series and the Whelen Modified Tour. What he learned was racing was much more than just turning left. There was preparation, strategy, and of course driving talent.
What started as a way to generate more business for his travel agency soon turned into a respect, and love for the sport. Phil wanted to be involved in the sport somehow, and sponsorship seemed like the best option.
Knowing he couldn't get involved at the highest levels of stock car racing, he contacted Sponsor Drivers Motorsports Marketing, a non-profit group that tries to connect racers with potential backers. It was here that he first learned about Rob Silver, and Neil Rutt III, two young drivers who have had a tremendous amount of success, despite still being in high school.
Rob Silver started racing at the age of six in the Quarter Midget cars at "Little Wall", the asphalt oval for young drivers located next to the pit area for Wall Stadium Speedway. He raced there for seven years picking up the Young Lion NJ State Championship in 2011, 2012, and 2013. He was also the points champion in the Young Lions/Semi-Pro Division at Bethel Motor Speedway, while finishing fifth in the nation for the INEX Young Lions Asphalt Division.
In 2014, Rob made the move into full-size race cars by joining the Sportsman Division at Wall Stadium. Driving his number 26S, the sixteen year old finished eighth in the overall points standings competing against some drivers who have been racing longer than he has been alive. His performance earned him the Wall Stadium Speedway "Rookie of the Year" honor.
Rob's plans for 2015 will see the Howell High School Junior continue to compete in the Sportsman Division at Wall with a possibility of some starts in the Wall Mods later in the season. On Opening Night, at Wall, all the seventeen year old did was set fastest time of the 22 cars on hand. Unfortunately, an inverted start of the top eight times put him in the outside lane for the start of the feature. Trapped on the outside he fell to the back of the field, but raced his way back to seventh by race end.
Neil Rutt III is a third generation driver, who like Rob, has put together a quite impressive racing career despite his age. Neil first started racing in 2006 in the Junior Flat Open Go Karts, eventually moving up to the INEX Series Bandolero Cars.
During this time he picked up more than 50 wins, and three driving championships at Wall. He was the 2006 "Rookie of the Year", the 2009 "Racer of the Year", and the 2012 and 2013 NJ State INEX Bandolero Champion. He also won in World Karting Association national competition.
In 2014, Neil took his driving talents to the full-size Factory Stock Division at Wall. Despite his lack of experience with the heavy, full-fendered machines, he soon began to put respectful finishes together in a division filled with experienced drivers.
Thanks to help from friend Paul Hartwig Jr., and Cruise4U, Neil got to realize a dream on Opening Night at Wall by getting behind the wheel of a Wall Mod. Unfortunately, a lack of new racing tires to compete on didn't allow the Junior at Toms River High School East to show his full talent. However, he did a great job staying out of the way of the faster cars while picking up some experience.
The rest of 2015 is still up in the air for Neil. He is hoping to make a Race of Champions start at Chemung Speedway on May 8th, and may make some starts in the Factory Stock Division at Wall throughout the year.
As for Phil Arons of Cruise4U, he is not only excited to be part of two young drivers careers, but he has also signed on as an advertiser with RacingAroundJersey.com as part of our Shop the Sponsors page. He will be offering special cruise deals throughout the race season to NJ race fans, with the possibility of putting together a racing cruise by years end.
We like to encourage our readers to support the businesses which support local auto racing, so if you are even just thinking about going on a cruise be sure to contact Phil at Cruise4U. Who knows, you might just end up on that ship with the bumper cars that got all this started.
Phil Arons and Neil Rutt III
Scott Riggleman is RacingAroundJersey.com's
Driver of the Week
For the most part, the decision of RacingAroundJersey.com's Driver of the Week has pretty much taken care of itself in 2015. Starting with Ryan Godown winning two features in the same weekend at two different tracks, New Egypt Speedway and Bridgeport Speedway, continuing on with Jeramy Doerr winning three features in a row while dealing with great personal tragedy. And last weekend's performance by Ryan Watt who won a huge race at Big Diamond on Friday, which he followed up with two great performances at NES and Bridgeport to close out the weekend.
Late on Saturday night it looked as if our decision was going to be obvious again. Rick Laubach had technically won two races in the same week when he won on both Sunday and the following Saturday at Bridgeport.
Then came the Factory Stock feature event at Wall Stadium Speedway. A race that unfortunately few saw as most of the healthy opening night crowd had left due to the unseasonably cold night.
After a long delay getting the race started due to the oiling down of the track by scheduled front row starter Rich Mongeau, the event went caution free for it's 25-lap distance.
Joe Mongeau took the early lead over Bob Haberstick, but it was not long before defending Factory Stock Champion Scott Riggleman made his way to the runner-up spot. It became obvious, almost immediately, that Riggleman was a little better than Mongeau.
However, rather than force the issue, Riggleman stayed patient. So patient it looked at the start of the last lap as if the driver of the 09 machine would be content to settle for second. Who would blame him, a second would be a great way to start his title defense.
But settling for second is not how Riggleman has won his championships. He races to win, and Saturday night would be no different.
Somehow, Riggleman found just enough room to get below Mongeau in turns one and two. He pulled even with the 62 machine, which had led every lap, down the backstretch.
Mongeau fought back on the outside, making a charge toward the checkered flag. The two cars came out of turn four door-to-door. At the line it was Riggleman over Mongeau by inches.
A performance that earned him our Driver of the Week honor. Yes, he only won one feature event during the weekend, but it was the way he won it. By not using his bumper to force his way by. For giving Mongeau the respect he deserved on the track, while not being willing to settle for second. And for providing the most exciting finish of the weekend, even though we had to wait until the end of Saturday night for him to do it.